11 Ways to Win Business This Holiday Season
The National Retail Federation expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurants) to increase a solid 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion — significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. So, how are you going to win a slice of that pie?
Where Do You Start Your Planning?
While there are many considerations for winning business in the holiday season, let’s focus on the online piece of your business. Some factors to consider as part of this planning process:
- Much of seasonal shopping are purchases for kids/teens/college students—if this is part of your target market, definitely keep this in mind.
- Are you looking to expand your share of wallet with current customers, or are you more focused on winning first-time customers to your business? Your marketing strategy will be different depending on your focus.
- How important is the holiday season to your annual business goals? See later in the blog if this is true for your business.
Steps Taken by Successful Holiday Business
Here are steps that successful businesses take to greatly enhance their businesses during the holidays:
- Launching new products/services in time for the holidays—keep things fresh.
- Online marketing, including active use of social media—not only for building brand awareness/equity, but also listening to customers to understand perceptions and to quickly fix customer service issues before they go viral.
- Make your returning customers feel like VIPs—from autofill forms at checkout to recommendations to enhance/supplement previous purchases on the site.
- Free shipping—the market is already there, so you can’t afford not to do this.
- Don’t just match Amazon (or whoever the market leader is for your product/service)—find a way to differentiate your offerings, and make the customer experience memorable so they come back next year.
- Optimize your online store—sounds like an obvious recommendation, but many sites still haven’t put in the work to fix this (every second matters during the holiday shopping season).
- Don’t forget mobile—even if your customers don’t purchase from their smartphones, they use them to make decisions about products/services, so make the effort to enhance the mobile experience.
- Don’t forget about customer service, either—another obvious but often overlooked item.
The Holidays Are Over—Now What?
Don’t forget to take stock of how your business did once the holiday season is over. What clearly resonated with customers and what clearly didn’t, and how were you able to adjust to the data coming in to help make improvements to your plan. The importance of actionable data can’t be understated for online businesses, particularly those that rely heavily on holiday purchases to have a successful year. Consider investing in the latest digital management engagement technologies to provide data that your business can immediately use to adapt to shifting trends/customer actions (or lack thereof, such as online cart abandonment).
Finally, consider moving the start of your next year’s holiday action plan earlier, using pre-peak holiday promotions/marketing to engage your customers over a longer period of time. Many holiday shoppers these days have started making their purchases well before the traditional holiday season, so your business needs to build a relationship with them as they first come to their seasonal buying. Even if these customers come to your site only once a year, having a plan to meet their needs/desires is critical to success.
Frank Jackson, “6 Steps to Winning Customers During the Seasonal Shopping Period”, August 25, 2015
Kat Fay, “Winning holiday shoppers from Amazon means offering low prices and free shipping”, October 16, 2015
Aaron Everson, “Why Social is Key to a Winning Holiday Marketing Strategy”, November 6, 2014
Kevon Hills, “How Retailers Can Ensure Winning Customer Care This Holiday Season”, September 21, 2014
Brett Bair, “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Winning Holiday 2015”, October 20, 2015
Jennifer Delgado, “Seven-Step Action Plan for Winning the Holiday eCommerce Battle”, November 11, 2013